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The School of Greatness

Kevin Bacon on Overcoming Self-Sabotage, Manifesting His Dreams, and the Key to His 35 Year Marriage

Mon Sep 25 2023
ActingMusicFameEntertainment Industry


This episode explores the journey of an actor and musician who initially focused on fame and external rewards. They reflect on the importance of family support, the challenges of the entertainment industry, and the dark side of fame. The speaker shares insights on maintaining identity, finding balance, and embracing change. The episode also highlights their new podcast featuring celebrities involved in philanthropy.


Fame and Wealth

The speaker emphasizes that fame and wealth are not necessarily synonymous with happiness.

The Dark Side of Fame

The dark side of fame includes serious risks like drug addiction, scandals, and depression.

Maintaining Identity

Maintaining core values and identity while playing different characters is a challenge for actors.

Embracing Change

The speaker admires their wife's ability to embrace change and sees changing one's mind as a positive quality.


The speaker's new podcast focuses on famous individuals involved in charitable causes.


  1. The Greatness Mindset
  2. Early Influences and Ambitions
  3. Pursuing Fame and Artistry
  4. Navigating the Entertainment Industry
  5. Lessons Learned and Reflections on Fame
  6. The Dark Side of Fame
  7. Maintaining Identity and Balance
  8. Embracing Change and Philanthropy

The Greatness Mindset

00:01 - 07:12

  • Lewis House's book, The Greatness Mindset, has become a New York Times bestseller.
  • The book offers exercises and toolkits to help readers develop a plan for greatness.
  • Kevin Bacon is a guest on the School of Greatness podcast, known for his talent as an artist and his treatment of others.

Early Influences and Ambitions

06:53 - 15:14

  • The speaker had supportive siblings who enjoyed their entertaining performances.
  • Rather than finding inspiration in pain and tragedy, the speaker attributes their success to the support they received from their family.
  • Initially, the speaker focused on fame and external rewards rather than the artistry itself.
  • Acting and music became therapeutic for the speaker even before they understood the concept of therapy.
  • The speaker's mother taught them compassion, understanding, and not judging people based on appearances or background.
  • Despite coming from privilege, the speaker's mother dedicated her life to helping the poor and those in the prison system.

Pursuing Fame and Artistry

14:46 - 22:36

  • The speaker's parents had contrasting views on money and fame.
  • At 14 years old, the speaker did a military recruitment commercial, breaking away from their mother's values.
  • The speaker's interest in acting started in high school, where they took classes with older people.
  • Moving to New York, the speaker aspired to be like actors in edgy 70s movies.

Lessons Learned and Reflections on Fame

29:52 - 37:41

  • The speaker reflects on the lack of guidance and support in their career choices.
  • They admit to making poor choices in their work, resulting in unsuccessful movies.
  • The speaker used to prioritize their art over business aspects but later realized the importance of understanding the entertainment industry.
  • In the past, movie actors would never do commercials, but now it has become more common due to changes in technology and media consumption.
  • Fame and wealth are not necessarily synonymous with happiness.
  • Actors become performers because they desire attention and recognition from an audience.

The Dark Side of Fame

37:17 - 45:00

  • There are two kinds of actors: those who want to be famous and liars.
  • Being famous means being judged as a novelty or freakish nature.
  • Complaining about fame is pointless because it was a chosen path.
  • The dark side of fame includes serious risks like drug addiction, scandals, and depression.
  • Living in a fantasy world while making movies can confuse actors about what life is really like.
  • Fame can lead to isolation and losing touch with regular people, which can be detrimental to acting.

Maintaining Identity and Balance

44:44 - 53:00

  • Identity is always shifting for actors as they play different characters.
  • The challenge is to maintain core values and identity while playing other parts.
  • Promoting work and staying relevant is necessary, but the ideal would be to let the work speak for itself.
  • Having a partner who keeps them grounded and connected outside of work is crucial.
  • Engaging in activities that take them away from daily routines helps maintain balance.
  • Playing dark characters can affect the actor emotionally, but they are able to say goodbye to those characters once the film is wrapped.
  • The actor doesn't keep props or memorabilia from movies, preferring to move forward and not dwell on past roles.
  • The speaker expresses love and gratitude for their wife of 35 years.

Embracing Change and Philanthropy

52:35 - 1:00:26

  • The speaker has been with their wife for 35 years and admires her ability to embrace change.
  • Changing one's mind is seen as a positive quality, especially in light of new information and perspectives.
  • The speaker discusses their new podcast, which focuses on famous individuals involved in charitable causes.
  • The podcast aims to highlight the genuine care and dedication of celebrities towards their philanthropic work.
  • Matthew McConaughey is mentioned as a guest on the podcast, praised for his interview skills.